[sixties-l] Fwd: Berkeley Organization Teaches Members How to Demonstrate Effectively

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Jul 17 2000 - 21:39:24 CUT

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    >Berkeley organization teaches members how to demonstrate effectively
    >Updated 12:00 PM ET July 14, 2000
    >By Sasha Talcott
    >Daily Californian
    >U. California-Berkeley
    >(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- Berkeley resident Sarah Seeds
    >has been arrested more times than she can count and once was
    >shot at while trying to prevent loggers from clear-cutting
    >an old growth forest.
    >In an effort to stop a fishing boat from going out to sea,
    >28-year-old Katy Flynn-Jambeck and six other demonstrators
    >linked arms and spent two days hanging from the side of a
    >Dan Rudie, another activist, hung himself five years ago
    >from the sign of a San Francisco Shell station to highlight
    >the plight of a Nigerian dissident.
    >These protesters and other members of the Berkeley-based
    >Ruckus Society kicked off their fourth annual Democracy
    >Action Camp Thursday, training more than 150 participants
    >to repel off buildings, climb a 60-foot tower and stage a
    >sit-in in a tree.
    >Participants hope to use their newly acquired "direct action"
    >skills to protest at the Democratic National Convention,
    >which will be held Aug. 14-17 in Los Angeles.
    >Activists say members of different left-wing movements can
    >use the camp and the upcoming convention to unite and,
    >hopefully, prevent the "hostile corporate takeover of
    >our democracy."
    >Ruckus program director Han Shan accuses both the Democrats
    >and Republicans of subverting their ideals to the allure of
    >soft money and corporate greed.
    >"These aren't conventions -- they're coronations," he says.
    >"It's already known that Bush will be elected for the
    >Republicans and Gore for the Democrats. It's a tiny group of
    >rich elites in business who are deciding how things are run."
    >In the hills above Los Angeles, the camp participants will
    >spend the next week honing their skills for the upcoming
    >convention protests, when hundreds of thousands of progressive
    >protesters are expected to flood the city.
    >Shan says liberal activists have become increasingly
    >disenchanted with the Democratic Party's wholesale embrace
    >of typical Republican issues, including free trade and the
    >death penalty.
    >At the November meeting of the World Trade Organization in
    >Seattle, this disaffection exploded into conflict, as
    >thousands of protesters took to the streets to rail against
    >the international governing body.
    >"The grandest tactic we used in Seattle was numbers," Shan
    >says. "(The World Trade Organization) doesn't represent 99
    >percent of the human population and 100 percent of the Earth."
    >Ruckus members, who heavily participated in the Seattle
    >protests, say they hope to shine the spotlight not on the
    >Democratic convention, but the drama in the street outside.
    >Rudie says his decision to hang from a gas station sign
    >created a strong visual image and focused attention on Shell
    >Oil's actions overseas.
    >"In a case like this, the most important thing was to get
    >people to see what was about to happen," he says. "We drew a
    >line in the sand and said, 'Enough is enough.' We can't take
    >any more. We're making a stand."
    >Flynn-Jambeck, who teaches camp participants how to climb
    >scaffolding, says the group's direct action tactics are
    >designed precisely to attract media coverage. She says
    >activists know they can only temporarily put a halt to events
    >but their dramatic stunts often thrust the problem into the
    >"You only stop something for a little while, but it makes
    >people bear witness to what's going on," she says. "When you
    >put your body on the line, people start paying attention."
    >Flynn-Jambeck says she chose to suspend herself from a bridge
    >in 1997 to stop fishermen from "strip mining the ocean" and
    >to push for less destructive fishing methods.
    >Although she was arrested in the action, Flynn-Jambeck was
    >acquitted after an eight-day trial. Berkeley activists formed
    >the Ruckus Society in 1995, after federal legislation
    >increased the number of circumstances under which timber
    >companies can log on public lands.
    >"Suddenly, we saw the need for a lot more activists on a lot
    >more fronts to prevent the wholesale destruction of our forest,"
    >Shan says. "We needed to give someone the tools to create a
    >ruckus. We have to enlist a whole generation of young people
    >if we're going to win this battle."
    >Although the Ruckus Society started as an environmental group,
    >it soon blossomed into an umbrella organization for left-wing
    >Seeds says her own long history of protest demonstrates that
    >nonviolent tactics can cause genuine change. A Ruckus
    >volunteer trainer, Seeds spends her summers in the Idaho
    >forests blockading half-finished roads.
    >In one memorable instance, she and other protesters barricaded
    >a road by using "lock boxes" to fasten their arms and legs
    >together. Environmentalists had already sued to prevent
    >construction, Seeds says, but the legal challenge had dragged
    >out unresolved for years.
    >While preventing construction, the activists also set up a
    >table with coffee and doughnuts to serve to workers who were
    >blocked from building the road. During that protest, a local
    >man shot at the demonstrators, but the bullet whizzed by
    >harmlessly over their heads.
    >Seeds says the event was memorable not for the gunshot but
    >because the protesters followed their training and remained
    >calm under fire.
    >"All the things we were trained to do -- all the things we
    >believed we could do -- worked," she says. "We saw ourselves
    >put to the test and we passed that test. We knew what to do
    >and it went well."
    >In Los Angeles, Seeds says she will serve as a liaison between
    >demonstrators and law enforcement.
    >"If it makes sense to risk (arrest), you risk," she says. "Use
    >all the tools in the toolbox, but use the ones that will get us
    >closer to the revolutions we want."

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